On a night where England were nearly punished for not taking advantage of their first-half dominance, Harry Maguire lashed home an 85th minute winner, after Harry Kane’s early penalty had been cancelled out by Jakub Moder following a bad mistake by John Stones.
Nick Pope – 4
Given his chance in the team thanks to Jordan Pickford’s injury, the Burnley keeper will need to do a lot better if he wants a chance of convincing Gareth Southgate to stick with him. Had very little to do all night but looked uncomfortable with most of the workload he did have. Got away with smashing a clearance straight into Declan Rice in the first half when closed down. Was rescued by the referee’s whistle when a mix-up between him and Stones almost handed Poland a goal early in the second. His misdirected pass contributed to Stones’ error for the equaliser, where he then flapped somewhat at Moder’s shot.
Kyle Walker – 6
Preferred to Reece James and Kieran Trippier in England’s toughest game of the break but had very little involvement for the vast majority of the match. Was noticeably less advanced than Ben Chilwell on the other side. Came to the fore in the closing minutes as England looked to see out the game after the late goal, with a well-timed challenge in the box and some calm interventions to prevent Polish attackers reaching loose balls.
Harry Maguire – 6
Took his winner well to smash a bouncing ball high past Wojciech Szczesny after a knockdown from a corner. The goal papered over the cracks of his side’s performance as a whole and to an extent his own. Had shown intent to march forward early on but as England ran out of ideas the defence looked increasingly skittish when put under minimal pressure. Conceded a clumsy first-half foul in a dangerous area that came to nothing, and a cross flicked off a Polish head straight into his hand in the second. With his arm above the shoulder it was probably penalty by rule but, in the absence of VAR or complaint from the opposition, nothing came of it.Embed from Getty Images
John Stones – 5
A fairly calamitous defensive performance in a season that has seen the Manchester City man make a significant return to form. Only had three really notable contributions to the game. His first involvement saw a dubious decision to attempt to shield the ball back to Pope with a man close behind him that almost led to disaster. The second saw his heavy touch and lack of urgency punished when Moder robbed him on the edge of the box and scored. He made some amends with his third as he went flying round the back post to nod down the corner and assist Maguire.
Ben Chilwell – 6
Preferred to Luke Shaw in the only change from the Albania victory. Spent the whole first half well forward and combined well with Chelsea teammate Mason Mount on occasion, including when he was played in to deliver a dangerous cross that Phil Foden headed over inside the first 10 minutes for the best early chance. Gradually faded from view as England stagnated. Was barely noticed in the second half until a slight knock wasted some injury time with England trying to run out the clock.
Kalvin Phillips – 6
Playing alongside Declan Rice he was the more adventurous of the two holders. Pressed high and was tidy enough on the ball but was somewhat redundant when England were in complete control and would have benefited from more creativity. This was only amplified after they were pegged back and failing to produce many opportunities, while Southgate resisted making any changes until after the goal was scored.
Declan Rice – 7
The over-cautious formation in midfield aside, the West Ham man did do a good job breaking up play in the middle of the park, especially in the first half where he was composed, made some good interceptions, and set counterattacks in motion. Did well enough to suggest that, considering the lack of opposition attacking threat, he could have held the centre of the pitch on his own, especially since the solidified central pairing did not apparently increase the back four’s confidence anyway.Embed from Getty Images
Phil Foden – 7
Decent performance that could have produced more. Got under the early header from Chilwell’s cross when a taller player may well have scored, and could have had a penalty in the 10th minute when he was knocked over in the corner of the area by Grzegorz Krychowiak with the referee uninterested. Pressed well in the first half and a lovely lay off gave Harry Kane a good shooting chance after half an hour. Should have done better than a tame low shot when played in by Mount in the second half, but did take some initiative late on with a decent dribble forward that won a free kick on the edge of the D at a time when most passes were going backwards. However, he took the free kick himself and hit the wall with it. Subbed for James after the late goal.
Mason Mount – 8 (Man of the Match)
Just about the standout from a misfiring and stodgy performance. Was all-action from kick off, harrying opposition players in midfield and high up the pitch, and was ready to receive the ball everywhere. After his goal against Albania, everything went through him in the opening quarter, and he combined well down the left with Chilwell and Raheem Sterling. A strong run just after half time in the same area won a free kick on the left side of the area that should have led to something, although his influence waned afterwards. Did really well to bring a high ball down on 69 minutes and play the onrushing Foden in for what probably should have been a goal.
Harry Kane – 6
Far from the captain’s most sparkling performance in an England shirt, and certainly did not reach the hights of some of his showings for Tottenham this season, but easily converted high down the middle to pass Frank Lampard for the most penalties scored for England. Had one threatening shot saved by Szczesny after half an hour after Foden’s lay off and slid in mid-way through the second half to almost block the keeper’s clearance straight into the net, but on the whole was not the threat he sometimes is. Replaced by Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the 89th minute.
Raheem Sterling – 7
A strong first half followed by an anonymous second half, but still probably England’s second most influential player in attack. Was not quite clicking before his burst of pace and purpose saw him power to the by-line to win the penalty when Michal Helik panicked and went to ground trying to halt him. Was a menace on the left side of attack for the remainder of the half, driving past players or slaloming through them. Was caught in two minds between shooting and looking for Foden when virtually clean through inside half an hour, allowing Jan Bednarek to block and a glorious opportunity went begging. A last-ditch tackle from the Southampton defender was the only thing to stop another weaving run past five Polish shirts moments later. Replaced by Jesse Lingard in the closing minutes.Embed from Getty Images
Reece James (on for Foden 86’) – N/A
Only involvement was to skew an attempted clearance straight up in the air with his first touch.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (on for Kane 89’) – N/A
Brought on far too late to influence anything aside from keeping the ball by the corner flag to waste a bit of time.
Jesse Lingard (on for Sterling 89’) – N/A
Exactly the same as Calvert-Lewin.Embed from Getty Images
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